Ways to be Healthier in Your Spare Time
Free time… It seems like the majority of us don’t even have it anymore, am I right?! Truth is, we all have it and most of us probably under-optimize it. Before I paid attention to what I was doing in my free time, I would have said the same.
One of my goals this year is to be actively attentive to the way I spend my spare time. I often felt overwhelmed. And by often, I mean, all the time. I constantly felt like I was moving and one day before bed, I sat down and thought about all the things I did that day. While yes, I typically am busy, I was NOT as busy as I thought I was. I think you’d probably say the same for yourself.
I mean, think about it, how often are we ACTUALLY unable do be doing something productive? And this something doesn’t have to be some big production. I am more so talking about the time you are not actively engaged in work, conversations, a workout, time with friends, family. etc. The time you spend walking to your workout, on your commute, when you lay in bed in the morning, when you plop on the couch after a long day and suddenly, 3 hours have gone by. This exercise of being attentive to spare time is more about mindfulness than anything else- being mindful of where you are, your headspace, and the ways you are bettering yourself rather than constantly giving your attention elsewhere.
So, upon breaking down my day, I have a found a few consistent small blocks of time that I could be utilizing differently. I came up with a list of them, and I’ll also share when I like to incorporate them to hopefully, spark an idea for where you can implement this in your own life.
I move around a lot during the day, as I’m sure you do, too. I wake up, try to get a workout in, go to work, grab lunch, drop packages off at the post office, go home, get dressed for Barry’s, walk to Barry’s, workout, walk home, possibly grab dinner with a friend or alone on the way, and then finally make it home. Since most of these places are downtown, I typically Uber. I hate parking in the city, gives me anxiety. Let’s not even talk about it. So, anyways, I Uber and spend TONS of money on them weekly. And I do mean, TONS. A ridiculous amount. Yeah, it’s cold, but that’s what winter coats are for (you can find my current favorite here). I have started walking almost everywhere (except to and from work because that’s a waste of my time, as I need to be productive during those commutes) and it has done WONDERS for my mental health, physical health, bank account, and helped me discover cool little spots in the city I never would’ve known about otherwise! Plus, my Apple Watch gives me a little celebration like mid-day when I need a pick-me-up most 😉
Those of you who workout, PLEASE hear me on this. So, I was a collegiate athlete. I played Division I soccer at the University of Oklahoma. I have played soccer my entire life. I’ve been exposed to some of the best athletes, trainers, and physical therapists the sport has to offer. I KNOW how to prevent injury and train properly. But, tell me why I walk into Barry’s 5 minutes before class, put my stuff away, walk into class, grab my stuff, and walk out?! GREAT QUESTION! Horrible for my body and I KNOW that, but, I’m too focused on what’s happening next or prioritizing something else before that I can’t focus on what’s best for my body. So, if I can’t make this a priority, I have to incorporate stretching into my day. I now stretch first thing in the morning, instead of scrolling through Instagram for 20 minutes (and listen to a morning meditation while I’m at it), while watching TV, and for 5 minutes during my work day to move around a little bit! Better than nothing, right? I’ll work on it…
In the morning when I wake up, for 5 minutes after stretching around lunch, and before bed. That simple. I recently purchased a year of Headspace and I love it! There are so many options for meditations from sleep, to eating, prioritization, focus, happiness and even developing a healthier relationship with technology. A must have.
Listen to a Podcast or Ted Talk
I love to listen to Podcasts while in the shower, on my walks to and from Barry’s, and while I’m cooking dinner/meal prepping for the week! A little inspo during the activities I usually do before taking on my way, not a bad idea, huh! I listen on the Podcast App in the Apple App Store and also to a few on Spotify! Ted Talks I watch on their app.
Practice a Skill
My skill this year is Spanish! I downloaded an app called Duolingo and am practicing my Spanish daily! I speak Spanish very well, actually. I understand fluently but speaking gets away from me considering I rarely speak to people in Spanish. I set a goal in the app and it reminds me to complete my daily lesson. I have made a effort to do this during the day, when my mind is sharp! Typically, if I am waiting around for an Uber, or when (if) I have extra time in the morning before I leave.
Skimm/Read the News
Download The Skimm! Turn on your News notifications on your phone! When you’re on the toilet, in an Uber, during TV commercials, while you’re waiting on hold with some airline or cable/Wi-Fi company. Let’s be honest, that time is so damn annoying, anyways. And yes, I did casually just mention while you’re on the toilet. We all do it, let’s not act like we don’t. Please don’t respond and tell me you’re a quick bathroom-user… We all spend some time sittin’ there at some point. Figure it out.
Read a Book/Audible
I’ve been cutting down my TV/social time at night to read a book. My friend Bret, the co-founder of a REALLY cool organization called Live Better and in addition to a Live Better Book Club, he has committed to read 1 book per month all year! I would love to do that. It seems steep, but, I have started keeping a book in my purse/backpack for the unexpected times! I’m actually listening to a book right now as I type this, at 11pm, on a flight back to Chicago from NYC. I’m exhausted, I’d much rather be sleeping but I keep my mind awake with GREAT reading/listening content. And that, my friend, inspires me to create GREAT content for you! Waiting for the doctor, in between meetings, the time I choose to “sit there” because I don’t have time to actively DO something before beginning my next task.
Catch Up with a Friend
We are ALL guilty of that catch-up phone call we put off all the time with that one friend we really do love, but, just can’t seem to find the time to catch up with. Or, the bestie we text basically all damn day but don’t get to see as often as we’d like because our schedules are nuts. When you pick up your phone to waste time on some social platform, call them instead. Even if it’s just a few minutes, I’m sure you’ll make them smile, you’ll decompress for a few minutes, and you’re putting time and effort into a relationship that’s important to you. Everyone wins.
So, all in all, I’d categorize these healthy activities into three categories- mental health, physical health and emotional health. Being mindful of incorporating these activities into your spare time daily is SO important and will make almost every waking minute of your day productive! It is important to remember that life is made up of a few big moments and a ton of little ones. Make the little ones worth it. Please always remember, as I tell myself daily, putting time into yourself does NOT mean you weren’t productive. It simply means you were productive in a way that pours into your cup, as opposed to pouring into the cup of others. Never feel guilty for replenishing your supply. Gotta get to give!
Any other ways I missed? Blocks of time I haven’t accounted for? I’d love to hear yours.
I believe in you, hunny. Get there.